Aug 27, 2008

"And forgive us our sins, for we also forgive every one that is indebted to us."
Luke 11:4.
"And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors."
Matthew 6:12
Here we find, in the prayer which the Lord taught His disciples, a plea for
pardon. Luke has it a prayer for the pardon of sins, while Matthew has it
a prayer for the pardon of debts. Today we frequently hear it, "forgive us
our trespasses," which does not occur in any of the Gospels, although in
Matthew it says, "But if ye forgive not men their trespasses, neither will
your Father forgive your trespasses."
It has often been thrown at the professors of holiness that they have got
beyond the Lord’s Prayer. Also, it would seem to furnish a kind of refuge
for those who believe that we cannot live above sin; for, if Christ taught
His disciples to pray, "forgive us our sins," it would imply, as they
suppose, that He expected them to sin every day, or there would he no
need of the petition.
Speaking of the Lord’s Prayer, we would say that no one is spiritually
qualified to pray it unless he is sanctified or is seeking the grace. The first
two petitions of the prayer say, "Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done."
How much of His will does that mean? What is His will? A part of it is
this: "This is the will of God, even your sanctification." — 1
Thessalonians 4:3. To pray for the Lord’s will to be done, and then to
reject sanctification, would certainly disqualify one for praying the Lord’s
But here is the petition for pardon in the prayer: In one place it says
"sins," and in the other "debts." Of course, we understand that it does not
mean the debts of a business nature, which are sometimes contracted
like any honest person, go and pay them. It would seem that the words
"sins" and "debts" are used here interchangeably. In the old order of
things, there was instituted a Year of Jubilee. In that year, among the many
blessings which came to those in trouble, was the cancellation of all debt.
This certainly was hailed with much delight by those who were thus
embarrassed. It did not work any hardship on the creditors, for when the
obligations were made it was with the understanding that they were to be
canceled at the Year of Jubilee. Isaiah took up that year, with its many
material blessings, and, in the sixty-first chapter, threw it into spiritual
prophecy. Thus, as he looked down through the vista of time, he saw a
day coming which was the great antitype of the old Year of Jubilee. The
earthly blessings which came with that year, Isaiah saw were to be
spiritualized. What they enjoyed in a material sense, the coming
generations were to enjoy in a spiritual sense. Let us see when it was
fulfilled. In the fourth chapter of Luke it is recorded that Jesus went into a
synagogue and opened to this very chapter of Isaiah and read, among other
things, concerning this Year of Jubilee. When he had finished, He said:
"This day is this Scripture fulfilled in your ears." So, we see that Jesus
brought in the great spiritual benefits, while the ancient Jews knew more
particularly of the material. They forgave debts of a literal character; Jesus
forgives debts of a spiritual nature. By coming unto Him, lie will wipe
them all out, to remember them no more against us forever. Debt places
one under obligation to another. Every actual known sin, every mistake,
indeed everything that will not measure up to the standard of absolutely
perfect conduct, is reckoned as debt on our part towards God. Failure in
any way to meet the perfect law of God and His will toward us throws us
just so much in debt. It matters not whether it be intentional, or is done in
utter ignorance of His will, the debt is made just the same. But God has
made a difference in His own estimate of sin on our part; between known
sin and a sin of ignorance. His own great heart of love would make this not
only possible, but really necessary. So, in the Old Testament, we learn of
(to known sin, which had to be dealt with in a certain way, and also of sins
of ignorance, which were answered for in another manner. There is not a
person under the blaze of Gospel light who cannot receive an experience of
salvation from actual, known sin, so that he can say:
"I rise to walk in heaven’s own light,
With heart made pure and garments white,
And Christ enthroned within."
And there is not a Christian, even in the very highest experience, but will
make mistakes and blunders, and commit what the Old Testament calls
sins of ignorance. A known sin will bring the one who commits it under
condemnation and guilt. Before he ever is free from its effects he will have
to pray, "Forgive us our sins," or, more specifically, "my sins." And as
every mistake puts one under so much obligation to God, yet without that
sense of condemnation and guilt that known sin brings, he will need to
pray likewise, "Forgive us our debts." It would be well in this sense to
pray the prayer daily. But to say that our Lord expected us to commit
known sin daily, and that the prayer was intended for a petition in such
cases, would show on the very face of it that Christ admitted that He was
not sufficient to save unto the uttermost; that His atonement did not reach
far enough; that there was a power which was stronger than His in the
world. But thank God this is not the case. "Greater is He that is in you,
than he that is in the world." How thankful we ought to be that God has
provided a way back to Himself, if we are overtaken in sin, and have
severed our connection with Him! On the other hand, we should likewise
be thankful that He has provided a way so that we are not set adrift for
every mistake we make; but that we may pray the prayer before us, and
know that He who gave us the prayer will answer it.
More particularly, is it expected, that in this blessed Holy Ghost
dispensation, with the Comforter abiding within, we shall have additional
advantages over any of those prior to the day of Pentecost. Christ gave the
disciples that prayer before they had received the baptism with the Holy
Ghost After He came and took up His abode in them, they seemed to be
different people. No doubt there was need of frequent return to that
prayer, with broken and contrite hearts for forgiveness, before they
received the "power from on high," but with the grace of full salvation and
the mighty power of Pentecost in their hearts, we know that their walk
was on lines far different from what it was before. Perhaps it might be well
to call attention more carefully to this fact. We will take a look at these
disciples before and after Pentecost.
Above the world and sin;
1. Unbelief and hardness of heart.
"Afterward He appeared unto the eleven as they sat at meat, and
upbraided them with their unbelief and hardness of heart, because
they believed not them which had seen Him after He was risen."
Mark 16:14.
They had the root of the matter in them. The carnal mind had not yet been
destroyed, and so they had that element to contend with, which at this
time manifested itself in unbelief and hardness of heart.
2. Unholy aspirations. "And James and John, the sons of Zebedee, came
unto Him, saying, Master, we would that Thou shouldest do for us
whatsoever we shall desire.
"And He said unto them, What would ye that I should do for you?
They said unto Him, Grant unto us that we may sit, one on Thy
right hand, and the other on Thy left hand, in Thy glory. But Jesus
said unto them, Ye know not what ye ask." Mark 10:35-37.
Here we have carnality manifested in another form. Ambition to be
somebody. Some are troubled in this way nowadays. The remedy for this
disease is to take a trip to the "upper room," and to wait there till the holy
fire falls and consumes inbred sin.
3. A spirit of revenge. "And they did not receive Him, because His face
was as though He would go to Jerusalem.
"And when His disciples, James and John, saw this, they said,
Lord, wilt Thou that we command fire to come down from heaven
and consume them, even as Elias did? But He turned, and rebuked
them, and said, Ye know not what manner of spirit ye are of. For
the Son of man is not come to destroy men’s lives, but to save
them." Luke 9:53-56.
This is another manifestation of this carnal Vesuvius, which lies in every
unsanctified believer, and is ready with any provocation to burst out with
its unholy lava and actually spoil the vantage ground one has gained since
the last reckoning up time.
Desire for popularity. "And He came to Capernaum; and being in the
house, He asked them, What was it that ye disputed among yourselves by
the way?
"But they held their peace; for by the way they had disputed
among themselves, who should be the greatest." Mark 9:33-34.
As long as the "old man" is in the house there is no telling how and when
he may raise a fuss. The idea of the followers of the meek and lowly Jesus
striving and contending about human greatness! Yet carnality assumes
some strange forms.
5. Bigotry.
"Then Peter took Him, and began to rebuke Him, saying, Be it far
from Thee, Lord; this shall not be unto Thee. But He turned, and
said unto Peter, Get thee behind me, Satan; thou art an offense
unto me; for thou savorest not the things that be of God, but those
that be of men." Matthew 16:22-23.
Christ did not want to be defended, and especially not with human
strength and weapons. Peter evidently thought he could successfully
protect the Savior. The big perpendicular pronoun clamors for recognition
if the "old man" is allowed to remain inside.
6. Doubt.
"Except I shall see in His hands the print of the nails, and put my
finger into the print of the nails, and thrust my hand into His side, I
will not believe. Then saith He to Thomas, Reach hither thy finger,
and behold my hands; and reach hither thy hand, and thrust it into
my side; and be not faithless, but believing." John 20:25, 27.
Probably one of the worst troubles an unsanctified believer has with his
heart is a tendency to unbelief. This awful thing is the blighting curse of
the world today. The great remedy is a clean heart, full of pure love.
"Peter answered and said unto Him, Though all men shall be
offended because of Thee, yet will I never be offended. Jesus said
unto him, Verily I say unto thee, that this night, before the cock
crow, thou shalt deny me thrice. Peter said unto Him, Though I
should die with Thee, yet I will not deny Thee. Likewise also said
all the disciples." Matthew 26:33-35.
We all know how sadly they failed in this. Self-confidence is one of the
evidences of the presence of the "old man."
8. Human dependence.
"Then Simon Peter, having a sword, drew it and smote the high
priest’s servant, and cut off his right ear." John 18:10.
As long as carnality is in the heart it will seek to depend on the human
instead of the divine. We never hear of Peter cutting off ears after
Pentecost. He used another kind of sword for another purpose.
9. Fear.
"Then all the disciples forsook Him, and fled." Matthew 26:56.
This was the result of the inbeing of sin. Had they been filled with the
Spirit they would never have forsaken Him and fled. Through fear, Peter
even went so far as to backslide and deny the Master and curse and swear.
But the Lord had mercy, and broke his heart and brought him back.
But we must do justice to these disciples. Some declare that they were not
converted till the day of Pentecost. The writer was once stopped in the
midst of his sermon by a Doctor of Divinity, declaring that he did not
believe the disciples were converted till Pentecost. To take the ground that
they were not converted till the day of Pentecost, is to fly in the face of
Christ’s own words concerning them. Let us see a few plain evidences that
they were converted before the day of Pentecost:
1. They belonged to Christ.
"Thine they were, and Thou gavest them me." John 17:6.
2. They kept God’s word.
"They have kept Thy word." John 17:6.
"They have believed that Thou didst send Me." John 17:8.
4. None of them were lost except Judas.
"While I was with them in the world, I kept them in Thy name;
those that Thou gavest me have I kept, and none of them is lost,
but the son of perdition; that the Scripture might be fulfilled."
John 17:12.
If one is not lost, then he must be saved, for Jesus "came to seek and to
save that which was lost."
5. They were not of the world; had come out from it and suffered
persecution for it.
"The world hath hated them, because they are not of the world,
even as I am not of the world." John 17:14.
What a blessed thing it would be in these days if all who profess to be
followers of the meek and lowly Jesus would so come out from the world,
that the world would recognize the fact, and thus form a clear line of
All of these clear evidences Jesus mentioned to the Father in His prayer
for the disciples, and immediately prayed
"Sanctify them through Thy truth; Thy word is truth."
John 17:17.
Showing conclusively that sanctification is subsequent to a clear case of
Not only did they possess the evidences mentioned in Jesus’ prayer, but
we notice also that
6. They had left all and had become followers of Jesus.
"Then Peter said, Lo, we have left all, and followed Thee." Luke 18:28.
7. They had marvelous power to cast out devils and heal the sick. "And
when He had called unto Him His twelve disciples, He gave them power
against unclean spirits, to cast them out, and to heal all manner of sickness
and all manner of disease.
"And as ye go, preach, saying, The kingdom of heaven is at hand.
Heal the sick, cleanse the lepers, raise the dead, cast out devils;
freely ye have received, freely give." Matthew 10:1, 7, 8.
Suppose that one who manifests the spirit of a humble Christian today
should be found doing such work, would not people think him a genuine
8. Their names were written in heaven. "Rejoice, because your names are
written in heaven." — Luke 10:20. It is true that this had reference to the
seventy that Christ sent out, but who would suppose that they had their
names written in heaven and the disciples had not?
When we look at these disciples from the carnal side of their experience,
and see sometimes the unbelief and hardness of heart, unholy aspirations,
a spirit of revenge, desire for popularity, bigotry, doubt, self-confidence,
human dependence and fear; when we see these things cropping out in
them, we are constrained to cry out that they did not have any part or lot
in the blessing of salvation. If that be the case, then the prayer, "Forgive
us our sins," would certainly be very appropriate. On the other hand,
when we look at the grace side of their lives apart from the carnal, and see
that they belonged to Christ, kept His word, believed on Him, were not
lost, were not of the world, were persecuted for righteousness’ sake, had
left all and were following Jesus, had such marvelous power, and that their
names were written in heaven; when we see these characteristics, we are
constrained to say that they were perfect. We wonder if the preachers
who claim that these were not converted till Pentecost would refuse any
one the privilege of church membership who had as good, but no better,
experience than these? Or, should one of their members, with a like
experience, die, would they not preach him into heaven?
The fact of the matter is, these disciples were very much like justified
people today — there was a carnal side and a spiritual side in their
experience. Sometimes they had the victory, and sometimes they did not.
Sometimes they were up, and sometimes they were down. It was a sort of
in and out, to and fro, time with them. It was a case of sinning and
repenting. It was not all sinning, nor all repenting, but occasionally the
"old man," which remained in the heart of these, as well as the "old man"
which remains today in the heart of all Christia
spring up and cause them trouble. But look at them after the prayer of
Jesus for their sanctification was answered on the day of Pentecost. What
a change has come over them and in them! The fire of the Holy Ghost has
burned out inbred sin and purified their hearts. Now it is victory all the
time. Instead of unbelief and hardness of heart, their hearts are melted
down in the crucible of God’s love and filled with the simple faith of
Christ. Instead of unholy aspirations, and wanting preeminence and
popularity, they are willing to take the lowest places. They are willing to
be counted as the filth and offscouring of the world; they are willing to he
banished and scourged and put in prison; anywhere with Jesus and
anything for Jesus. Instead of wanting literal fire to come down and
consume their adversaries, they would have the fire of the Holy Ghost
come down and consume sin out of their hearts. Instead of the sword of
steel to cut off the ear, Peter uses the sword of the Spirit and cuts into the
heart. Instead of bigotry, and self-confidence, and human dependence, they
have learned that they can accomplish nothing apart from Christ; that only
in Him can they hope to succeed, and that in and of themselves they are
nothing. Instead of all forsaking Him and fleeing away, they stand like
pillars in the temple; they are ready to live or to die for Jesus; the prison is
not too dark for them; the ultimatum of the Sanhedrin does not affright
them; the blazing fagot only puts more fire into their souls; the glittering
sword has lost its piercing terror; Patmos’ lonely mount only brings the
heavenly hallelujahs the nearer. Amidst howling mobs, and whirling
brickbats, and ecclesiastical denunciations, and living deaths, the still small
voice of Jesus is heard cheering them on the way. In the darkness of inner
prisons the face of Jesus is seen smiling with approbation upon them.
They are so filled with the divine presence, and so utterly abandoned to
the Holy Ghost, that it makes no difference with them when they are
killed or how they are killed. Instead of Peter denying his Lord, he
constantly witnesses to His name; instead of cursing, he is found praising
and shouting the constant victories of his Christ. Such was the power of
Pentecost. O that today those who are opposing the full salvation of God,
and bickering and caviling over holiness, would seek their Pentecost! Their
hearts would rejoice, the church would put on new strength, and the world
would be made better by their living in it. To your knees, ye critics, and
pray, "Forgive us our sins."
ns after regeneration, would
3. They believed on the Lord Jesus Christ.
between different parties. We should not expect to be forgiven them, but,